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Pep Guardiola: A Great Manager or A Manager of Great Teams?

Despite being the most successful manager in the history of FC Barcelona, there are those who consider the current Bayern Munich manager to be overrated. Guardiola won thirteen trophies in four years as manager of FC Barcelona, including two UEFA Champions League titles, beating English powerhouse Manchester United in 2009 and once more in 2011. Guardiola is the youngest UEFA Champions League winning coach in history and won six trophies in 2009, winning all competitions his team took part in. He has achieved, so far in his relatively short managerial career, more than managers whose careers have spanned over twenty years. Regardless of his list of achievements, Guardiola is accused of simply being a man in the right place at the right time.

Critics of Guardiola critics argue that he simply inherits squads filled with great players, firstly at FC Barcelona and now the European Champions, Bayern Munich. While Pep can be considered to be fortunate to be able to manage two of the biggest football clubs in the world, he fully deserves all the plaudits he has received.

At FC Barcelona, he did not conquer the footballing world by just taking Frank Rijkaard’s team and throwing them on the pitch. Pep knew what he wanted to do and how to achieve it. He had to make changes and he did. Upon being appointed, Guardiola made it known that superstars such as Deco, Samuel Eto’o and former world player of the year Ronaldinho, among others, were not part of his plans for the upcoming season. Eto’o ended up remaining at the club for one more season while Deco and Ronaldinho left to join Chelsea and AC Milan respectively. Guardiola brought in players who became key components of his success at FC Barcelona such as Dani Alves, Seydou Keita and Gerard Pique. He also promoted Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez from Barcelona B, who also played key roles in his tenure. This is a trait of an excellent manager, creating his ideal squad for success and making no hesitation in making significant changes to a good squad for the good of the club even if it is at the expense of fan favorites.

The identity that he gives his teams is another admirable trait that Pep possesses. The brand of football that he employs is of equal importance to Guardiola’s legacy as his thirteen trophy haul at FC Barcelona. Guardiola’s FC Barcelona team redefined the “beautiful game” and he has his current team, Bayern Munich, aiming to play the same style of football.

According to Bayern legend Lothar Matthaus, “tiki-taka has already reached Bavaria.” “Tiki-taka” is a strategy where numerous short passes are completed by the team, causing the team utilizing the strategy to dominate ball possession. There is a large amount of ground covered when using “tiki-taka”. It played a huge part in FC Barcelona’s success under Guardiola and in playing his way; And now his Bayern team is in a stronger position than they were at this point last season.

Critics of Guardiola believe that he is not a good man-manager, citing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s views on him as proof. Ibrahimovic, in his autobiography, said of Pep:

“Guardiola is a fantastic coach. But as a human? He is a coward. He is no man.”

Coming from perhaps the most egotistical footballer in the world, those words carry very little weight. Ibrahimovic’s words can be interpreted as jealousy due to the fact that he was not the star at FC Barcelona, as he was at previous clubs. Bayern president Uli Hoeness seemed to believe the same. Speaking regarding Ibrahimovic’s comments, Hoeness said:

“I think Ibrahimovic is an aggrieved prima donna who has not coped well with his departure from Barcelona.”

In terms of his man-management abilities, Guardiola is adept at getting the best out of his players. Managing a team of world class footballers is not an easy task. Just look at how Frank Rijkaard struggled to get the best out of a team that included stars such as Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto’o. Before FC Barcelona appointed Pep Guardiola, they looked to be simply a group of excellent individuals, rather than a great team. Guardiola’s man-management abilities enabled him to have a tactically organized unit, a great one at that. He stifled all egos for the good of the team, and that team succeeded. It is the same story at Bayern. No player believes that they are bigger than the team, and they are doing well.

At 42 years old, Pep Guardiola is young compared to other managers. It may just be too early for him to be classified as a truly legendary manager, but if he continues in this fashion he may very well be looked on as one of the greats, sooner or later.

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  1. Robert Smith

    April 24, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Personally, I think Pep is overrated. The man has one tactic and that is to hold the ball. In Barca he had all of that homegrown talent at his disposal and having Messi growing into of the best players in the world (maybe ever) he was definitely fortunate. His style seems to be focused solely on possession football or tiki-taka/tappy tappy football and boring his opponents to death. He’s doing the same with Bayern and trying to make them play the Barcelona (Guardiola) way and i’ll tell you know he will be found out soon enough. There’s no point in keeping 80% of the ball if you don’t score or create chances.

  2. bennett311

    February 14, 2014 at 10:42 am

    A Great Manager, no question. He demands the best from his players, especially when his squads focus on relentless possession. He had a system that extracted the absolute best from Messi.

  3. scrumper

    February 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Who’s doing a better job : Guardiola or Tony Pullis?

    • Scott

      February 14, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      The question, implies Pulis, and I would agree, his tactics might be ugly, but the guy knows how to survive with rubbish players, I liked to see Pep do that.

  4. insert name here

    February 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Guardiola is a great great manager. Barca were going off the rails when he took over and he sorted it out and then he took Barca to a whole new level when he took over. A level of winning trophies for Barca and a whole new level of football that surpassed anything we’ve seen for decades with some even suggesting the best football ever and now he is turing a great team like Bayern into a even better side. Theyre awesome to watch now, even better than before.. Its no coincidence that both teams play such extraordinary football. Guardiola doesnt just win,… he wins with such style and imagination. Its unreal. One of the best managers of all time IMO. Hope he returns to Barca soon.

  5. Mufc77

    February 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Ask me again when he’s managing Man utd in 3.5 seasons.

    • José

      February 14, 2014 at 2:16 am

      Why leave München to manage a mid table club?

      • Mufc77

        February 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

        Because mid table team or not we are still one of the biggest clubs in the world and that won’t change. Pep walked away from Barcelona after all his success so what’s he going to do to Bayern Munich after they win they league 2-3 years in a row in a overrated two horse league. Only a fool would think he’s going to stay there long term. Like it or not the EPL is the place to be for top players and managers.

        • James

          February 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

          Pep left Barcelona because of disagreements w/ Rosell. He used “recharge batteries” as an excuse to bow out w/o making it known publicly his disputes w/ the board. This won’t happen at Bayern.

          • Velija

            February 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm

            That was a part of it but not the biggest part. He was far too invested in Barca for his own good, just look at how much he changed in just 4 years, he looks to have aged 20 rather than 4. The job took a huge hold of him and he needed to leave. I remember one particular story of his wife coming to the stadium every night nearly at midnight to pick him up because thats where he spent all of his time, studying his opponents and his own squad to make sure he can win. Basically the coach of Barcelona is almost required to be a workaholic to succeed and do what Pep did.

  6. ItalHikari

    February 13, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    To manage a great team you gotta be a great manager. And when he took the job as Barcelona manager, Barcelona was in bad conditions.

  7. Paul

    February 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I used to think Guardiola was a manager of great teams until i saw Bayern play this season.

  8. Brian

    February 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Managers like Guardiola and Mourinho, to name 2, will always manage the top clubs and it is difficult to predict how they will do if they went to clubs without the resources of a top club. So whether a manager is great or not has to be put in its proper context.

    • Hugo

      February 13, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Actually it is pretty easy to know how well Mourinho would do with limited budgets. He did a short good spell with Benfica, before the club changed president and he was discarded. Then with Leiria, a very poor club, he left it halfway in the season in 2nd place. Then with Porto he took a team in crisis (in all my life I have never been more worried with my club than at this stage) and achieved a UEFA Cup and a Champions League. I can tell you, as a Porto supporter, I never imagined my club could win a Champions League. When was the last time a team outside of England, Spain, Italy or Germany won one? I’m not saying that Mourinho is better than Guardiola, although I do believe he is. I’m just saying Mourinho has proved he can achieve incredible success with limited teams

      • insert name here

        February 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

        and Guardiola revolutionised the style of football.

        • JJ Bunt

          February 14, 2014 at 12:39 am

          No Luis Aragones did

  9. R.O

    February 13, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Wasn’t this a topic on this site just a few weeks ago? Please give it a rest. This can be asked about almost any Manager or Head Coach in any sport if he/she would be as successful with another team that didn’t have the same talent.

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